Newcomers Need Two Career Plans

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Success, as everyone knows, is all in the details. The planning. The execution.

And while luck can play a role, newcomers to Canada learn quickly, whether it’s renting that first apartment or applying for a job, that the more planning involved, the better the outcome.

Linda Ryan, the National Program Manager-Integrating Newcomers for the British Columbia Construction Association (*BCCA), is an expert at helping newcomers plan for, and achieve, success.

A self-described experienced relationship builder and practical implementer, Ryan is also a certified career and performance coach. “I help organizations grow by bringing people and process together.”

Rentals for Newcomers shares some of Ryan’s best career planning advice.

RFN: What is the advice you give newcomers about developing their best Plan A, and, of course, Plan B?

Linda Ryan: Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results." And it’s certainly true when it comes to job hunting, career building or career transition. That’s why I advise clients to take a step back in order to take a leap forward.

It begins with parking your adult brain and visualising your perfect day-describing what your life looks, feels, sounds, smells, tastes like - who’s with you (and not), where you are, what you’re doing etc. This fun but incredibly powerful visualisation exercise allows you to shed reality and dream the impossible -programming your brain with a new experience and something to problem solve and work towards. 

In order to translate your new experience into reality, you need to plan. 

RFN: So, what does a perfect planning day look like?

Linda Ryan: Write down everything you need to do to be completely successful with your ‘perfect day’. For most of us this includes something around how we earn money, so it is where your career/work plans come in. By developing a Plan A and Plan B in terms of your career you (1) acknowledge your reality but (2) honour your dreams. This helps you understand that both are possible if you are prepared to take consistent, constructive action to convert them into reality.

Your Plan A should be that career you'd LOVE to have long-term (usually this is an exact correlation to the career you’ve been building over the years and the role titles you've held). 

Your Plan B is either an alternative career (one you've always wanted to pursue and therefore have to start from scratch) or a career indirectly related to your experience or roles e.g. same industry/different profession, same profession/more junior role (very relevant for newcomers to Canada), or different industry/same profession.

Focus is the key to career progression says Linda Ryan

Articulate your Plan A and Plan B career on a single page (one for each). The pages should contain the overall objective (what specifically you want and why) and a list of big-ticket actions (everything you need to do relating to your Plan A/B in order to be completely successful). You’ll refer back to these big-ticket actions repeatedly, breaking them down into small steps and/or checking in with yourself to see if they are still relevant. The key to finalising your plans is to sign the bottom of the pages because these are your contracts with yourself. A pivotal point where you either agree to accept accountability for your goals (and do everything that’s required to be successful) or you don’t.

RFN: Why do you recommend reading your Plan A and B documents aloud?

Linda Ryan: Your career plans are living documents, roadmaps to help your own the process. So, keep them close, read them aloud daily, set yourself a timeline (seven to 10 days), and as you achieve items on your to-do list in that short time frame, tick them off, so you can see and celebrate your progress. After each seven to 10-day time frame, rewrite your Plan A and Plan B. This is a very important step to help you validate your goals or capture changes based on your progress, acquired knowledge or circumstances. Then, choose a new set of actions that are accomplishable in the next seven to 10-day time frame.

RFN: What’s your final piece of advice?

Linda Ryan: Remember, the key to career progression is focus, not distraction. Taking consistent, constructive steps. Celebrating your achieved actions and reflecting on what you didn’t achieve and deciding what you want to do about them. Honouring your dreams but looking at alternative routes to get there.

After all, your dreams are in your hands! Do everything possible to release your potential.

*The BCCA-Integrating Newcomers program is a free, pre-arrival, Canada-wide service, focused on helping high-skilled newcomers explore and build successful construction careers. Services include one-on-one career guidance, tailored resume, cover letter, LinkedIn advice, and an in-depth skills and education assessment to help newcomers focus on the best career, credentials and connections activities. The Integrating Newcomers team not only has multi-industry experience but are also immigrants who have built successful careers in Canada.

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